Our Tips for Choosing the Ideal Roof Rack for Your Vehicle

By Maria Rogerson

September 26, 2022Cars

No matter how much cabin space your 4×4 or ute has, there are going to be times when it’s not enough, or you’d simply prefer not to have whatever it is that you’re hauling in the cabin with you.

A vehicle’s roof, however, is the ideal storage space for anyone who needs more. For a tradie, it’s a valuable cargo area for transporting timber, bundles of PVC tubing or even a ladder. For camping and off-roading, it’s a roomy accommodation for tables and chairs, full-sized coolers, or recreational equipment.

A roof won’t actually give you more space, nor is it going to increase the amount of weight you can legally carry. What it will let you do though, is put a space you already have – the one right above your head – to actual use. Let’s take a moment to look at some of these racking options, and go over a few tips that’ll help you to use a rack safely.

Aftermarket Roof Racks Rock

Although roof storage is most likely to be associated with tradies and off-roaders, it’s just as beneficial for ordinary, day-to-day usage too. People transport bulky, oversized items like mattresses, rugs, and bicycles all the time, which makes investing in a well-designed roof rack for sale a smart decision even for use around town. A superior quality roof rack with multiple securing points makes it possible to safely transport almost anything that can’t fit inside your vehicle. And with the proper precautions and tiedown equipment, it also eliminates the need to have any other type of exclusive-use roof rack gear.

aftermarket roof racks examples
source: rhinorack.com

You can buy full-sized aftermarket roof racks online that are designed to either supplement, or completely replace factory-installed roof rails. In fact, the differences between aftermarket racks and factory-installed rails couldn’t be more pronounced.

·   Price. No matter the size, aftermarket racks typically cost half of what OE-supplied equipment does.

·   Strength. Powdercoated, heavy-duty alloy aftermarket racks are built to resist rust, chipping and cracking from stress.

·   Weight. Alloy roof racks are lightweight, sometimes weighing up to 50% less than even single roof rack rails.  

·   Capacity. Crossbar supports and mesh flooring let aftermarket racks use the entire roof surface to hold between 100 – 200kg.

·   Accessories. Aftermarket racks provide a solid base for permanently fixed accessories like light bars and tool holders.

Aftermarket racks do it all; and when it comes to variety, you’re guaranteed to find one that’ll fit your needs and your vehicle just right.

Roof Rack Types

There are 4 main types of roof racks; and while the way they’re mounted can make a difference in their construction, they all serve the same purpose: making transport more convenient. And racks can also be used in conjunction with other rooftop carriage accessories such as cargo pods and bags, making them multi-purpose solutions for moving all kinds of gear.

Roof Bars

Aftermarket roof bars, along with roof crossbars, are lightweight attachments that can be oriented either lengthwise, or from side to side on a vehicle. These bars are ordinarily sold in pairs, and can be mounted using either channel-fitted truck or car roof rack kits, or attached universally using generic drill-mounting kits.

Cage Roof Racks

Cage racks are the largest, heaviest duty, and most common type of 4×4 roof racks. They’re also known as roof baskets and come in the broadest range of styles, including:

·   Tradesman. With side rails, these racks offer up to 5.2m² of the loading area, and can also feature rear rollers to aid in loading and unloading, as well as wind deflectors.

·   Flat. Adding up 2.9m² of the loading area, tray-type racks without side rails allow contents to overhang the rack but still be adequately secured.

·   Canopy. Canopy-style racks provide up to 2.1m² of loading area atop steel canopy shells, and are supported from inside the shell by reinforced plating.

Regardless of the cargo, cage racks are the preferred tradie and off-road roof rack solution for all purposes, and all types of vehicles.

roof racks for sale and their benefits
source: rhinorack.com

Roof Luggage Racks

Roof luggage racks are moderately sized, universal-fitting roof racks for cars or trucks with low side rails that are attached to channel-mounted roof bars. Luggage racks only have a modest 1.1m² loading area to spread out luggage or other reasonably sized cargo, but that also makes them perfect for overnight or weekend getaways with minimal cargo.

Tub Racks

Tub racks feature low-sided, 2.6m² steel containers that are raised above the bed liners or tonneau covers of pickup-style 4x4s. These solid containers are supported by height adjustable supports, and are optimal as either stacked storage solutions or for mounting awnings or rooftop tents.

A Few Roof Rack Notes

It doesn’t matter which type of rack you choose, there are a few basic tips you’ll want to keep in mind to help make using a rack more pleasant. And you always want to remember too that when it comes to roof racks Australia is as strict about what’s attached to your vehicle as it is about what’s installed on it.

Once your rack is secured to your vehicle, before securing anything to the rack, you’ll want to be absolutely certain that:

·   The weight of the cargo doesn’t exceed the rack manufacturer’s specified limit;

·   The combined weight of the cargo and the rack don’t exceed your vehicle’s specified roof limit; and,

·   No part of the cargo projects away from the vehicle in any manner that could be considered dangerous.

You also want to ensure that your cargo is spread out as evenly across the rack as possible. This not only helps to distribute the weight on the rack, but helps to maintain the centre of gravity on the entire vehicle. You want to take into account too that the front end of your cargo is also going to form a leading aerodynamic edge, and making sure that it’s adequately fastened down is paramount to your, and public safety. 

And when it comes to straps, nets, tie-downs, or other restraining gear, you can never have enough of them. No load’s ever been lost from being over-secured, but plenty has been lost from not being secured firmly enough. A good roof rack will have plenty of fastening points, so don’t be reluctant to use your straps. 

The Final Word

At the end of the day, when you have a lot of gear to haul, you want to be able to take advantage of as much usable space as your vehicle has to offer as possible. Fortunately, your vehicle has an entire extra loading area that’s waiting to be utilized; it has to be done safely.    

The first step toward putting that area to use, however, is by finding a high-quality roof rack for sale for your vehicle. The right rack solution is going to pay for itself many times over, both on and off the road; and you’re going to be surprised by just how much of your gear can be stored topside to free up more space inside.